Bella Italia - June 25th 2010
The 14th day and the end of the rally proper.
So the last morning has arrived, and I watched the last group leave with very mixed emotions. I was sad the rally had ended, but looking forward to the trip back home as I had four days to do it in, so no mad rush. First intended stop was Briançon in south-west France.
Before I left I made sure the visitors book was as full of stickers as possible:
As on the way down, I hacked my way along the autostrada to get most of Northern Italy behind me as I really wanted to explore some of France I'd not been to before, and also to ride some great roads I'd previously discovered. It was after coming off the autostrada early by mistake, and then getting back on at a minor junction that had had its road-markings re-painted recently, that I realised that motos were NOT charged for using the autostrada. The 'Telepass' has two short-armed barriers, one from each side. One is for normal traffic, the other for any 'convoi exceptionelle' that needed extra width. There is a gap between them, and that is where bikes should go - clearly marked! Needless to say, none of the operators at the toll booths had said a word about this, they had cheerfully taken the money from an ignorant foreigner who had not deciphered the worn-out marking at all other autostrada entries. One to remember...
I headed for Cuneo, as it looked like there was a good pass over the mountains there. After negotiating some unfinished brand-new autostrada, I began to climb up, but looking ahead realised it was time to tuck away the mesh jacket and put on the normal wind and wet-proof one.
Along the way one small village was having its road resurfaced. Traffic was backed up a huge distance both ends, with people having picnics while they waited. However the tarmac lorries that blocked the road had left a gap for pedestrians. A gap? Like a ferret down a rabbit-hole the Hornet bypassed the enormous and very bored queue and darted through. Completely unperturbed workmen showed me the safe un-sticky path to take, and I was on my way. 25 'tornantes' (hairpins) later and I was at the pass summit, and entering France again.
There were some amazing rock formations, but yet again a 2-D camera cannot convey the awesome view of rock folded like layers of some exotic icecream.
Then more glorious roads:
Three sports-bikes came roaring up and passed:
They turned out to be Brits who spotted this fellow Brit, and they turned around to have a chat. They were tickled pink to see a UK-registered Vespa up on the mountain roads, and insisted on taking a photo for me:
More glorious road ahead:
Eventually I found I was so far south of the path I took on the route down that I was off the maps I'd downloaded to Gertrude, so I made my way along lots of lovely minor roads just following my nose and eventually made it to Briançon. Ah, it seems this town is hugely popular in the summer as well as the winter - every hotel was 'complet' - fully booked. I spotted a small one that had a sign that indicated it was moto-friendly, and the kind lady inside directed me to a place she said was 'trés sympa' about 10km further along my intended route. And 'trés sympa' it turned out to be, but more of that later.
Odo so far:
and the track of the day (530km):